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Pacific Beach planners weigh-in on vision for trolley station neighborhood

Neighborhood redevelopment: Red lines indicate Balboa Avenue Station Specific Plan area for the trolley stop coming in 2021. PB planners want more time to review the proposals, but the City wants all input by Dec. 31, 2018.
Neighborhood redevelopment: Red lines indicate Balboa Avenue Station Specific Plan area for the trolley stop coming in 2021. PB planners want more time to review the proposals, but the City wants all input by Dec. 31, 2018. San Diego Planning Commission will hold a hearing for public comments 9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, in City Council chambers.
(PB Monthly File)

The Pacific Beach Planning Group focused on proposed development in and around the upcoming Mid-Coast Trolley Station and along Mission Boulevard at its Nov. 28, 2018 meeting at the PB Library.

Balboa Ave. Station Area Specific Plan

Michael Prinz, senior planner for the City of San Diego , presented the updated Balboa Avenue Station Area Specific Plan for review. The plan covers 210 acres around the upcoming trolley station at the southeast corner of Balboa Avenue and Morena Boulevard. This includes the eastern part of Pacific Beach between Rose Creek and Mission Bay, just west of the I-5, and parts of Clairemont Mesa , east of the I-5 and Morena Boulevard.

In keeping with San Diego’s “City of Villages” concept, the Balboa Avenue plan prioritizes a safe network of streets for pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders and motorists, including easy access to the station and surrounding areas such as Mission Bay Park, Rose Creek Bike Path and Pacific Beach.

The plan also calls for upgrading existing neighborhoods within the area, including along and on either side of West Mission Bay Drive, and north of Garnet Avenue near the I-5. Upgrades would include multi-use housing and business units, wider sidewalks, protected bike paths, pocket parks and improved landscaping.

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The plan recommends reduced (or no) street parking along West Mission Bay Boulevard, with additional parking in the back of buildings. Buildings would be required to maintain the 30-foot height limit.

The plan also provides for pedestrian access from the trolley station to Morena Boulevard with sidewalks to Balboa Avenue with ramps and stairs, and for a pedestrian bridge to be built over I-5. Currently, a bridge is being considered between Bunker Hill Street and Magnolia Avenue; others have suggested one between Clairemont Drive and Tecolote Canyon. Another consideration is widening pedestrian walkways and adding lighting on Balboa at I-5 underpass.

The trolley station is scheduled to open in 2021 with adjacent access ramps and sidewalks already completed. The eastbound Balboa Avenue to southbound Morena Boulevard ramp has now been closed and traffic now flows to the eastbound Balboa Avenue to Morena Boulevard ramp; this ramp has been widened and a signal added at Morena Boulevard for turning south or north.

The Planning Group made several suggestions. Members agreed that a pedestrian bridge should be part of the plan. Eve Anderson, chair of the Streets & Sidewalks subcommittee, suggested that scooters and bikes be kept off sidewalks and expressed concern that those currently living in lower-income neighborhoods in the area will be displaced by redevelopment.

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Kristen Victor, chair of the EcoDistrict subcommittee, said the plan does address the Pacific Beach Development Plan’s concerns of land use and mobility, but needs to include safer pedestrian and bike routes to Mission Bay High School.

Karin Zirk, director of Friends of Rose Creek, expressed concerns about too much density and not protecting open spaces. She disagreed with the City’s stance that Rose Creek should not be parkland and not be included in the plan.

• For more Friends of Rose Creek analysis, see saverosecreek.org

The Planning Group voted to send a letter with specific concerns to the City and to ask for more time to review the plan. The City wants all input by Dec. 31. The San Diego Planning Commission will hold a hearing for public input 9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, in Council Chambers, City Administration Building, 202 C Street. The Planning Commission will then approve, approve with conditions, or deny the plan. The City Council is expected to review the plan in January and February 2019.

• To see the plan, visit balboastation.org

• To make comments or get more details, e-mail mprinz@sandiego.gov

Mission Blvd. Public Spaces and Active Transportation Plan

City senior planner Elizabeth Ocampo-Vivero presented the Mission Boulevard Public Spaces & Active Transportation ideas currently being reviewed at community workshops. The City is asking for input.

The plan covers improving transportation flow and safety for cars, cyclists and pedestrians, along Mission Boulevard between Pacific Beach Drive and Diamond Street, and on the side streets in that area between Mission Boulevard and the boardwalk.

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It includes a variety of alternatives for Mission Boulevard, including two traffic lanes with buffered cycle lanes, two lanes with one-way cycle tracks, roundabouts with various types of cycle lanes, and three lanes with buffered cycle lanes.

Ideas for the side streets include widening sidewalks, improving parking and adding cycle lanes where possible.

The Planning Group has already expressed a preference for using roundabouts with one-way cycle tracks, as long as clearer paths are designated for bikes on roundabouts.

As Ocampo-Vivero pointed out, the final plan can be a hybrid of approaches.

• For more details or to make comments, e-mail eocampo@sandiego.gov or visit sandiego.gov/planning/community/profiles/pacificbeach/missionboulevard-psat

PB Planning Group next meets 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019 at the library, 4275 Cass St. pbplanning.org


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